The Prop. 8 Supreme Court decision means that 44% of the population in the United States now live in a state that recognizes gay committed relationships.
Washington, D.C. - - - When the Supreme Court issued their marriage equality decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case that challenged the validity of California's gay marriage ban under Proposition 8, and found that the petitioners in the case didn’t have legal standing to defend a state law, they rejected the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, and remanded the case back to the District Court.
After a lengthy trial that began in January 2010, it was August of 2010 when Vaughn Walker, the well respected chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional “under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses” of the Constitution.
Judge Walker was prescient in his order, as he questioned whether the proponents of Proposition 8, who were private citizens, had legal standing to represent the state of California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown had refused to enforce the gay marriage ban, and the ugly forces behind the ballot initiative used their vast financial resources to pursue their anti-gay agenda in court.
In the Court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority:
We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.
Because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to demonstrate standing to appeal the judgment of the District Court, the Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
Californians affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling rejoiced when they heard the news from the Supreme Court. Here in San Francisco, cars honked in celebration, and there was dancing in the streets of the Castro district. San Francisco’s City Hall was illuminated like a rainbow, and the War Memorial Opera House across the street, mirrored the lights at City Hall.
Most observers of the Supreme Court expected the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift their stay of the District Court ruling at the end of July, and were surprised when the Court acted swiftly, and complied with the higher court’s order within a matter of days.
Before gay marriages were reinstated in California, there were 12 states and the District of Columbia that recognized same-sex marriages, representing 18% of the US population. In addition, 7 states recognized gay civil unions or the equivalent, comprising 13% of the US population.
When same-sex marriages were restored in California, which is the nation’s most populous state with 38 million inhabitants that represent 12% of the US population, nearly 44% of the American people are now living in a state that recognize the validity of gay committed relationships, in one form or the other.
While I’m glad that the Supreme Court was able to reach a decision that resulted in Proposition 8 being invalidated, I was very disappointed that they didn’t rule on the heart of the case. They punted the ball, and didn’t consider the merits at all, as they failed to consider whether state gay marriage bans violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses in the Constitution, as Judge Walker and the Ninth Circuit concurred that they do.
That means that the Proposition 8 proponents are back at the drawing board to devise a new legal strategy to challenge the validity of gay marriages in California. The anti-gay movement will get another hearing in the public square, and more press coverage, as well as another day in court. They won’t win, and they’ll use the same old homophobic arguments to substantiate their bigotry, while the LGBT community has to endure more uncertainty in another court battle.
The anti-gay Proposition 8 proponents might have deep pockets to pursue endless legal challenges, and we’ve gotten used to that. I personally hope they go broke spending money on attorneys and legal appeals, because that’s what they deserve with their ugly behavior.
Remember that we have something very valuable that they don’t. The LGBT community has the majority of public opinion on our side, which even the folks at Mastercard would have to acknowledge is priceless. That’s why I know that we will ultimately prevail, regardless of what they decide to do in court. We have public opinion and equal protection under the law on our side, and that’s a winning combination no matter how you slice it.
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